ReviewsTelevision

Review: The Punisher (2017)

The spoiler-free review

The Punisher is the latest TV series from Marvel Studios to come to Netflix. It continues Frank Castle’s story following his cameo in the second season of Daredevil.

Overview

Let me start off by saying that the show is not meant for kids, teens and likely people in their late teens. It’s got an MA15+ rating for good reason. Moving on.

The Punisher is something to watch whether or not you’ve watched any Marvel shows. It’s a strong standalone show with its own characters (save for cameos from Karen Page and Turk).

The Punisher is something I’ve been waiting for with much anticipation. Ever since Daredevil, I’ve always thought that Frank Castle’s story needed to be told separately from the messiness of Daredevil.

Recap: The Punisher in Daredevil

Very generally, without spoiling Daredevil, here is how Frank Castle was introduced.

The Punisher came into the Daredevil story as criminals start turning up dead in Hell’s Kitchen. Of course, because Daredevil, he figures out Frank Castle is the one hunting down specific gang members.

By day—go figure—Matt Murdoch and Foggy Nelson end up defending Frank Castle after he’s convicted of the murders. They find out that his motivation is the murder of his family.

Cool. Now you’re going to have to watch the rest of Daredevil to find out exactly what happened to The Punisher’s family.

Marvel's The Punisher
He’s baaaack!

The Punisher returns

Even though we find out in Daredevil what happens to The Punisher’s family, that doesn’t exactly answer all the questions. The Punisher series explores just how deep the plot to murder the Castle family goes.

Storyline

The way the story unravels is well-paced. There’s enough time for the more violent moments and the quiet yet bittersweet moments. It would be easy to mistake the show as the stereotypical series of “pew pew pew”, “bang”, “whack” and “pow”.

What’s really impressive about The Punisher is how it gives focus to the fleeting moments of life. The constant flashbacks that Frank Castle has of his family are one of the only ways we see the loving side of The Punisher (despite his name). He’s not just the one-dimensional character we first met in Daredevil.

The storyline does so much to let us into The Punisher’s mind. It shows us just how complex a character Frank Castle is.

Characters

Character development happens! Hell, even secondary characters get some rounding-out in this show. This is a huge accomplishment for a 13-episode series especially in comparison to Daredevil and Ironfist.

The appeal of the anti-hero is seeing the vulnerability and weakness of a hero. We see a lot of vulnerability and weaknesses amongst all the characters. Mind you, this is a good thing because for once you can genuinely relate to ultimately human people.

Shoutout to Agent Madani

Hats off to the diversity and strong female characters in the show. The women in The Punisher represent the people with the strongest principles. Not to mention, they are also the strongest defenders of those principles.

In particular, Agent Dinah Madani, is an amazing character. She adds to the representation of diversity on screen. At the same time, she rises above any stereotypes or assumptions.

Agent Dinah Madani from The Punisher on Netflix
Oh Agent Madani, you badass you.

Of course, we need to continue the strong female characters in the Marvel Universe. Jessica Jones was a fantastic start and I want to see more of what I saw in The Punisher.

The feels

Watching The Punisher, you’ll find you’ve been on some kind of emotional roller coaster and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s hard not to relate to the mental state of the characters given their situations.

The strength of the show lies in how it explores dark human emotion: from grief, shame, and anxiety to rage, hubris, corruption, and ruthlessness. Some may feel that certain Marvel shows trend toward unrealistic optimism (I’m looking at you, Danny Rand). The Punisher resolves a lot of that super-optimism problem.

The show doesn’t shy away from sensitive topics either. The show spends a decent amount of time looking into the experience of veterans post-war and how some former soldiers view the government.

Final thoughts

For me, The Punisher sits in its own place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You can’t go in expecting it to be the same as any other Marvel show. It’s unique in its own violent but introspective way.

If you’ve always wanted a deep dive into The Punisher’s mind then you’ve got to watch the show.

Watch The Punisher Trailer

That Metallica trailer tho.

Images: Marvel Studios, Netflix

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Fran

Lifelong gamer with a fond love of RPGs, MMOs, puzzle games and mobile games.

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